GIG Review: Close Counters- Waratah Hotel, Saturday May 20th

Words by Josh ‘Tree’ Lovell

Tasmanian music was the clear winner on Saturday night as the lads from Close Counters emphatically proved just how well the Tasmanian music scene is prospering, if that wasn’t obvious enough already.

20 bucks, in comparison to years gone by can’t get you a great deal. It will get you roughly four coffees, or even fewer if you are soy milk inclined. It would get you just under half a slab of Cascade Draught or a fraction of ones monthly phone bill. Or, when Close Counters are in town, it can get you a hell of a lot.

On a wet and cold Saturday night in Hobart, 20 bucks got you four and a half hours of pure delight at a near-capacity Waratah Hotel, as local electronic heroes Close Counters, Melbourne’s Amin Payne and Lazer Baby from Hobart delivered a ridiculously enjoyable evening of live music.

Four-piece Lazer Baby kicked off proceedings as they delivered their eclectic sound that mixes pop, R&B and jazz in a fascinating way. In a diverse set of well-performed covers and dynamic originals, the group, fronted by Sabine Bester, performed a thoroughly enjoyable set to a moderate crowd that grew as the set progressed. There is no doubt that the audiences they perform in front of will continue to increase over time with constant local and interstate performances.

Next on the program was well-renowned Melbourne producer Amin Payne, who is rising in popularity, and this set confirmed that this is rightly so. The producer played some epic beats and mixes, using a variety of production techniques and equipment to make a unique brand of electronica that was a breath of fresh air. Payne looked to be constantly enthused by the crowd, with his energy and the sound quality in the room improving as the set progressed.

Lazer Baby and Amin Payne were the perfect preparation for what was a glorious main event. The Tasmanian duo of Finn Reeves and Allan McConnell make up Close Counters, and after recently relocating to Melbourne, the lads are certainly on the rise. Just last month the band supported Peking Duk at the Odeon Theatre, as well as the likes of The Kite String Tangle and the Aston Shuffle in recent years.

Close Counters clearly take a lot of influence from the Grammy-nominated UK dance duo Disclosure, with their upbeat and energetic brand of dance, electro and house producing an unreal sound. I was not well-versed on their music before this evening, and was only aware that they usually wear tennis outfits on stage, and although I was disappointed in this lack of attire, that was certainly the only disappointment.

The duo came onto the stage in front of a packed room just before midnight, and the local crowd made them incredibly welcome.

Normally I would discuss individual tracks in a live review, but Close Counters are a unique duo, with little to no breaks occurring throughout the set.

As a result, it was a non-stop party, and the assistance of Amin Payne on stage and the use of live keyboards made for a delightful sound that had the packed room dancing well into the early hours of the morning.

The Hobart crowd were a rowdy bunch, with Allan yelling late into the yet “You know you’re in Tassie when people are smoking inside”. We certainly are a different bunch down here, but the reception the duo got only further proved just how big they are becoming.

Keep your ears to the ground for future Close Counters gigs in Hobart, because a set like this would suggest that tickets would fly out the door. Close Counters are going places. Fast.





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